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Full text of "My country and my people"

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Sometimes we paint landscapes, and sometimes we paint the pleasures of home life, for these are the two eternal themes of Chinese painting.
The dragon is the most honoured animal in China, being a symbol of the Emperor, who always had the best of everything. It is most used in art as a decorative motive, partly because the twining body of the dragon contains in itself such a perfect rhythm, combining grace with power. I daresay we would have used the snake also, had it not been for the fact that the dragon, as a decorative motive, had a profounder meaning, besides having those beautiful claws and horns and beards which are always so useful in breaking monotony. The dragon represents other-worldliness, the "fugitive" or yi principle we have mentioned before, and it represents great Taoist wisdom, for it often hides itself among clouds and seldom reveals its whole self. For so is the great Chinaman. Perfect in wisdom and in power, he yet often chooses to conceal himself. He could descend to the depths of mountain ponds as he could rise to the clouds. Beneath the dark waters of the deep pond we cannot see any trace of his existence, but when he rises, like Chuko Liang, he convulses the whole world. For floods in China are always caused by the movements of the dragon, and sometimes we can see him swooping up to heaven in a column of clouds, amidst thunder and lightning, tearing up house-roofs and uprooting old banyan trees. Why, then, should we not worship the dragon, the embodiment of power and wisdom?
But3 then, the dragon is not a purely mythological or antediluvian entity. To the Chinese, the mountains and rivers are alive, and in many of the winding ridges of mountains we see the dragon's back, and where the mountains gradually descend and merge into the plain or the sea we see the dragon's tail. That is Chinese pantheism, the basis of Chinese geomancy. Thus, although geomancy is undeniably a superstition, it has a great spiritual and architectural value. Its superstition consists in the belief that by placing one's ancestors9 tombs in a beautiful scenery, overlooking those dragon mountains and lion hills, one can bring good luck and prosperity to the dead man's descendants. If the location and the landscape scenery are truly unique, if, for instance, five dragons and five tigers unite in